Generally my pre-concert routine is to pour myself a drink, clean my lenses, pack up my gear, and populate a flash drive with a mix of songs of that evening’s act for the drive. The night of Pinback and Deathfix at the Spaceland Ballroom in Hamden, CT however, was a bit out of the ordinary. In a rush, I only had time to grab my gear and go, stuck with whatever music happened to be in my car. I threw my gear in the back seat and set out for the Ballroom. Jawbreaker’s Unfun literally crackled at times through my car speakers due to a spectacular lightning storm that filled the sky. At one point during my drive I was convinced the show would be cancelled as a result of a power outage or surge from a lightning strike. The forking bolts of visual electricity that lit the night sky appeared like glossy photographs lifted right from the pages of a National Geographic article. Needless to say, Jawbreaker’s boundless energy propelled my trusty Subaru and me through the thunder, rain, and lightning to arrive just in time.
I first heard about Pinback from my friends The Joggers (defunct) who were talking about how nice Rob and Zach were when they opened for them while on tour in 2004. For some reason, I always like hearing that bands I admire are down to earth nice people. So I ran out the next day and found a copy of their 2002 EP Some Voices in the used bin at Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, MN, where I was living at the time. Some albums take a few listens to really get into but I was immediately struck with the mathy mesh of electronics, loops, synth, and of course the sophisticated fret work from both Zach Smith and Rob Crow that has come to define Pinback.
Dodging raindrops through the parking lot I reached the venue entrance and threw the door open and hopped inside to avoid any further wetness. As soon as I gathered myself and surveyed the space I knew I was at a Pinback show. After grabbing a beer, I found my way to the front where I encountered a couple clearly tripping on ecstasy. The woman was dancing to the music playing over the p.a. as if it were piped directly into her cerebrum. Her boyfriend sat on the edge of the stage with his eyes half closed wearing a huge grin and mumbling incoherently “oh you’re so hot”, or something equally creepy. This was immediately followed by a conversation with a down to earth, “dad” who chatted with me about his son’s love of photography upon seeing my gear. Shortly after, I spotted a dude wearing a powder blue Warren Moon Houston Oilers jersey, obviously. The oddball diversity that night (druggies, dads, dudes, hipster, jocks, etc.) is a testament to the wide swath of fans that the complex, harmonic, and brooding sound of Pinback draws together.
The San Diego trio ripped through a set that included fan favorites like “Tripoli,” “Loro,” “Offline P.K.,” and my favorite song of the evening “Syracuse.” As if the 21-song set wasn’t enough for the packed ballroom crowd, Rob, Zack and drummer Chris Prescott returned to play 3 more classics: “A.F.K.,” “Sediment,” and finally a blistering rendition of Prog. As I mentioned to a friend that evening, it might have been the tightest live gig I’d seen since Shellac played my alma mater in the fall of 1996. If you have a chance to catch them live and have yet to do so I highly recommend it.
Proceed To Memory
Good To Sea
From Nothing To Nowhere